Since 2014, €220 million worth of rural projects have been funded through the LEADER programme which are administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs).
These 29 LAGs, mostly made up of Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs), are based across Ireland and received an average of over €7.5 million to distribute to private enterprises and community groups over a seven-year period up to 2020.
Though the LCDCs usually make the final grant decisions, the day-to-day management and coordination of the programme is run by Local Development Companies (LDCs).
However, there has been some controversy over the boards of some of these companies in recent months. In January 2021, a High Court challenge was taken by a Kerry County Council councillor over how members are elected to the board of their local LDC.
A transitional LEADER programme starts in April 2021 with an initial €15 million allocated for new projects. Over €12 million is also allocated for administrative and other costs. €5 million covers project applications and administration costs of the new transitional programme and over €7 million is for the on-going management and delivery of the 2014-2020 projects.
There have also been calls by the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), who represent LDCs for the Government, to use Covid-19 EU recovery funding “for the purposes of bolstering the LEADER Programme”.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to look into the division of LEADER grants and find out if they are being distributed equally across local regions.
We will examine the Local Community Development Committee and Local Development Company boards across Ireland to find out how members are elected and if people feel represented. As part of this, we will also delve into the corporate governance of the LDCs.
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